As the economic downturn continues to drag on – and drag down consumer spending, attitudes and marketing budgets along with it – there’s an argument why effective public relations is more important for business-to-business (B2B) marketers than ever. In fact, there are five arguments:
1. PR builds credibility – PR utilizes third-party opinion-shapers (media) to help you tell your story. Whether it comes through trade media, newspapers, web communications or word-of-mouth, coverage by third-party media sources often provides a sort of implied endorsement and imparts additional credibility (and reach) to your message.
2. PR leverages cost-effectiveness – more than ever, B2B marketing is all about ROI in recessionary times. PR has proven to be many times more cost-effective than advertising, direct mail and other promotions in B2B and consumer markets alike. For example, a two-page story about a client of ours started a relationship with an automaker that helped the client generate millions of dollars in new revenue.
3. PR maintains visibility – Many B2B clients have been forced to slash advertising budgets, trade shows and other big-budget promotions. By taking a fraction of the cost-savings from those activities, and beefing up their PR budget to actually step-up low-cost/high-ROI PR activities, these clients can maintain their company’s/brand’s visibility while weathering the economic storms.
4. PR help grabs market share – Maintaining a positive, visible profile through PR while your competitors are laying low will help your company to win market share or at least position your company to build share when the market rebounds. If your competitors are quiet, your messages can dominate the marketplace.
5. PR extends trust – Communicating through PR during bad times, as well as good, will build your company’s relationships and trust with media, suppliers and customers alike. As a friend in the market research business once told me: in the absence of data, people make things up. And a corollary to that is: in the absence of communication from you, people assume the worst about you. Remember, for a business, if you’re out of sight, you’re out of your constituents’ minds. And if you’re out of their minds, they may assume that you are out of business. The trust and goodwill you build during these times will pay huge benefits when things turn around.
Many people see the short-term dangers posed by the recession. These dangers are many and, of course, are real. Yet, some B2B marketers have the vision and the boldness to see beyond the dangers. They see the longer-term opportunities available to those who use the power of PR to do more than just survive … to thrive.